Dover: Johnson - Friday media visit

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway. Johnson discussed Hendrick Motorsports' success with the Impala SS, what kind of mindset is required for a track like Pocono, how ASA racing ...

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway. Johnson discussed Hendrick Motorsports' success with the Impala SS, what kind of mindset is required for a track like Pocono, how ASA racing helped shape his career and other topics. A recording of this interview can also be downloaded by clicking the link below.

HOW WAS THE PARTY? "That was good. I am so happy for Casey, and once again we certainly had a good time. I forgot how long that victory ceremony takes place at Lowe's Motor Speedway, and going up to Humpy's suite and all that stuff. We didn't see him until late, had a lot of catching up to do."

ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS' DOMINANCE WITH NASCAR'S NEW-GENERATION RACE CAR: "We have talked about it a lot that a lot of teams have been very close and we have been able to have a solid race car and a solid day at the race track. We will see if we can keep that going, which I feel between all four of our cars and the way that we are all performing that one of us will be up there fighting for the win. Hopefully we can do it. It is a great track for the 20, as strong as the Gibbs cars have been, I would expect to see Tony up front fighting for the win, Hamlin is great, Childress cars have been strong, and also Matt Kenseth has shown a lot of speed with the Car of Tomorrow. This is a great place for him too."

ON YOUR EXPECTIONS FOR THE RACE THIS WEEKEND: "I don't know, I am hopeful since the cars don't drive like we want them to, that we are going to have to search out different lines and we will actually get in a second and third groove or a top lane worked in here at this track. Normally, a few events, we have had an outside lane, but not that often and hopefully with the cars not handling right, it will allow us to move around and make more racing lanes. So, that is what I am hopeful for."

ON WHETHER QUALIFYING IS IMPORTANT: "Qualifying is huge, and still I cannot believe that we only have 42 pit stalls here. And after what took place last year, and the promises made by the track that they were going to increase it to 43 stalls and give us a real garage area to work in, and the things that were coming, and we come back and none of it has changed. With that in mind, you have got to qualify well. This place is very tough and I had to share a stall here last time and it really, really hurt us throughout the day. If you can qualify, especially the pole and have that first pit stall at the end of pit lane, then you have a huge advantage today."

ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS BEING SO SUCCESSFUL WITH THE IMPALA SS: "It has just been a group effort. It's been great preparation, getting the cars ready and learning about the cars during the little bit of time that we have had. Great race teams, great drivers, all that put together and we have been able to win a lot of races."

YOU HAVE GOT ANOTHER TOUGH TRACK NEXT WEEK AT POCONO. IT SEEMS LIKE KIND OF A HIT OR MISS KIND OF TRACK FOR A LOT OF DRIVERS. WHAT KIND OF MIND SET DOES IT TAKE TO GET AROUND THERE AND WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO DO WELL? "I have had good years there where we have shown up and we couldn't do any wrong and have won and then other times where we miss it and it is so tough to figure it out and if you are off a little bit there, it really shows up and you feel like you are way off in left field. With how long the straight aways are, in racing, every corner leading onto the longest straight away is the most important corner and coming off of turn three, you have a mile long front straight away, if you get off the corner slow, you pay for it for a mile and it is four or five tenths of a second by the end of the front stretch and that is a lot in racing. It is a tough place and very challenging. I have to admit that I liked it a lot more when we were down shifting, it made the track a lot more exciting and entertaining for the drivers. Right now, it is kind of boring and you have got maybe one passing opportunity because we are not shifting and you kind of just wait for that chance every lap."

NEXT YEAR, WITH THE NEW CAR, IS THERE A POSSIBILITY OF SHIFTING COMING BACK, OR DOES THAT NOT AFFECT ANYTHING? "I am not sure. I have not heard if they would open that back up. I would think that they would leave it the same, because the reasons of not shifting, they were afraid that was an expense that some teams couldn't afford, which is crazy. We all have transmissions and change gear and go. I don't think that it will come back."

ARE THERE ANY CONCERNS THIS WEEKEND BECAUSE THERE WAS NO TEST IN THIS CAR AT THIS TRACK? "I don't have a lot of concerns; I look at it as it gives us an opportunity. It is one of our better tracks for the 48 Team. I think that Chad and I learn in a short period of time, so hopefully this is a good opportunity for us."

THIS BEING A CHASE TRACK, IS IT NICE TO HAVE ACTUAL RACE CONDITIONS NOW TO GET READY AND HAVE THE SET UP READY FOR CHASE? "Yeah, without a doubt. The tracks that we run on in the first half of the year that we come back for the Chase are really important to make sure that we document everything that took place - track conditions, weather conditions, the way the car raced, the set up that we come up with and trying to improve that going into the fall racing. It is a big test for us here."

WHEN YOU WENT INTO ASA RACING, WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THAT THAT SHAPED YOUR CAREER AND PERSONALITY AS A DRIVER TODAY? "Well, I did a lot of traveling in racing but it was in the off-road series and the tracks were different and I didn't know that we had to change and work on the set up of the cars so much from track to track. Running ASA and traveling to so many different types of race tracks really helped me prepare for the Busch Grand National Series and also for the Cup Series. In off-road you just worried about hitting bumps and that your shocks worked right over the jumps but in stock cars there is so much more that goes into it, so many more adjustments. I learned the importance of that. I learned what adjustments did what and what type of tracks, the flat tracks, the bank tracks, and then being in this big family that we all travel in, ASA really taught me that as well."

WHAT IS SO APPEALING ABOUT THE FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY NIGHT RACING? "When I think back, it was all about racing a stock car. I wanted to get on the asphalt. I knew that if I was going to have a career in motorsports I needed to be on the asphalt. Love dirt racing, but the off-road industry, at that time, was really suffering. The manufacturers were pulling out and going into the Craftsman Truck Series. It was tough for the off-road guys. So, for myself, it was all about trying to get to Busch, trying to get to Cup and I knew ASA was a proven series that helped drivers get there. I was just happy to be there and racing. There are guys that I used to watch on television and it was just great to get that experience in racing."

HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK THAT IT IS FOR NASCAR TO SUPPORT AND TEAM UP WITH THE LOCAL SHORT TRACKS? "I think that it is really important and I think that they recognize that and that is why they put so much effort into their own short track racing series. NASCAR does a great job with their short track racing series but there are a lot of other ones out there too. There are a lot of those local tracks and series that are bringing out great drivers and great crew chiefs. As long as NASCAR and the other little guys can all exist in that same world, it is good for motorsports. I think that NASCAR would like to control all of that, but as long as we continue to keep spitting out young drivers and keep race tracks open, as growth goes on in the country, we are losing tracks left and right and we all need to focus as a group and say 'How do we keep Motorsports alive? How do we keep it alive in a grass roots level and keep people coming up through the system?'"

IS IT HARD TO LOSE A RACE WHEN YOU HAVE SUCH HIGH EXPECTATIONS? "It certainly is. We had high expectations going into both and then in both events we had a car that could win the race and we came close in both events but didn't. If we showed up and ran 20th in both events and ended up second and 10th, it would be like, hey we did a great job but to run up there and fight for the win in both events and come out of there without the trophy plus the expectations, it certainly gets the emotions up."

IS THAT TRUE FOR ALL RACES, NOT JUST CHAROLETTE, HAVING A WINNING MINDSET AND THERE BEING A HUGE LETDOWN BY NOT GOING TO VICTORY LANE? "I think so. There are certain tracks that we excel at and you look at those on the calendar every year and look forward to them and hope that you can get a win there. When you leave those tracks, close but without a trophy, you are like, 'Man, did I miss an opportunity this year' because that is one of my tracks, that is where I have success."

IS DOVER A PLACE FOR GUYS WITH LESS LAPS THAN YOU HAVE, LESS EXPERIENCED DRIVERS IN THE NEW CAR? IS THAT PART GOING TO SHOW UP BECAUSE THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO SEACH FOR THE LANES WITH A CAR THAT IS MAYBE NOT HANDLING AS WELL AS WHAT YOU ARE USED TO? "I think so. I think that this track is really difficult to drive, one, and then two, if your set up is not right it is really, really challenging so more inexperienced teams and drivers, I think that gap will show more here than other places."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports